Intentions to post up numerous recipes this month were quickly thwarted by that lovely time of year known as the holidays. Planning for parties, shopping for gifts, decorating, and (alas) a bad cold have interrupted work schedules and free time alike. I’m not sick myself (yet, fingers-crossed, vitamins being religiously taken if only for a placebo affect), but my poor husband has had a cold all week.
Even when he isn’t sick, he loves soup. So with the sniffles, sneezing, and coughing on the go, I have done my best to keep him stocked with warm liquids. This particular soup has been on repeat for many months now. When I first made it, my husband asked, “Where did you learn to make such good soup?” I wasn’t sure whether or not to take that as a compliment, but I did take it as a firm nod of approval for this ridiculously easy recipe.
Chicken Barley Soup for the Soul
This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Sugar-Free and Wheat-Free (but remember that barley does have gluten!) – but choose your broth wisely (see my notes). For a Veggie Barley soup (vegan), see the comments.
- 1 to 1-1/2 Teaspoons Grapeseed Oil or other Neutral-Tasting Cooking Oil (depending on how many veggies you use)
- 1 to 2 Medium Carrots, diced (I usually use 1 medium to large carrot)
- 1/4 of a Medium Onion, slivered or diced
- 1/2 Cup Sliced Celery, about 1/4-inch thick (optional – I just use if I have some on hand)
- 1/4 Cup Pearl Barley
- 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 3 Cups Good Chicken Broth (I always buy Imagine Organic brand on sale, it is our favorite)
- 6 to 8 Ounces Chicken, shredded or cubed (I have used leftover Cornish game hens, roasted chicken, and freshly baked boneless skinless chicken breasts)
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt, or to taste
- Ground Pepper, to taste (optional)
Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, and celery (if using), and sauté for a few minutes, or until the onions soften. Add the barley and thyme, and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the broth, chicken, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to low and cover. Allow the soup to simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the barley reaches your desired tenderness. Usually this takes exactly 45 minutes, but a couple of times I had to allow it to simmer for an extra 10 minutes.
Season to taste with fresh ground pepper, if desired (I often omit).
Yields 2 soothing servings